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User Experience Research

What is user experience research and who is a user?
Many people think that user experince only refers to interface or visual design but one should bear in mind that a user experience project involves a wide variety of steps. Let’s take a quick look, here are the different stages involved in any user experience research process:

Field research
Face to face interviewing
Creation and administering of tests
Gathering, organizing, and presenting
Documentation of personas and findings
Product design
Feature writing
Requirement writing
Graphic arts
Interaction design
Information architecture
Interface layout
Interface design
Visual design
Taxonomy creation
Terminology creation
Copy writing
Presentation and speaking
Working tightly with programmers
Brainstorm coordination
Company culture evangelism
Communication to stakeholders
Source: helloerik.com/ux-is-not-ui

All these steps can be summarized in the user experience 5D process:

1. Discover
2. Define
3. Design
4. Develop
5. Deliver

So is user really the best word, here is a great blog post by Richard Anderson on this topic. Should we be more specific and replace user with participants, actors, human beings, people, stakeholders, learners, subjects, targets, guests, victims, addicts or patients? Does “user” really sum up the characteristics of the segmentation we aim to target? When is user not a user? Do we only research users or should we also add non-users?

In each user experience research project, depending on what the ultimate goal is,the word “user” may give its place to a different replacement as seen in the examples below:

scenario-based design
contextual design
task-oriented design
goal-directed design
culture-based design
performance-centered design
activity-centered design
value-centered design

For those of us interested in user experience elements in web design, here’s an excellent source. So check it out!